Tuesday, December 6, 2011

2011-12-06 "Milk-Moscone vigil draws crowd" by David Duran from "Bay Area Reporter" newspaper[http://www.edgesanfrancisco.com/index.php?ch=news&sc=&sc2=news&sc3=&id=127401]
A volunteer places flowers on the fence at Harvey Milk Plaza Sunday for the 33rd vigil for Harvey Milk and George Moscone. (Photo: David Duran)
 A volunteer places flowers on the fence at Harvey Milk Plaza Sunday for the 33rd vigil for Harvey Milk and George Moscone. (Photo: David Duran) 
Dozens gathered in the Castro Sunday, November 27 on the 33rd anniversary of the assassination of San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone.
The event has been a city tradition since the murders. Milk was one of the first out gay politicians to be elected to public office in the country. But after serving in office less than a year, he and Moscone were shot to death inside their City Hall offices by disgruntled former Supervisor Dan White.
This year’s vigil started at Harvey Milk Plaza in the Castro and was led by Stephany Joy Ashley, president of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club. A beautiful memorial of flowers was placed to honor the lives of the men and candles were lit to help people take a moment to reflect on the impact of what Milk actually did for the LGBT community and for many other groups.
The crowd was mostly of an older generation, and more and more gathered as the speakers were introduced. Folks passing by would ask what was going on and once they found out, they mostly gave a nod of acceptance but continued on with what they were doing.
Longtime Milk friend and fellow activist Cleve Jones was one of the speakers. It was an emotional Jones who brought some in the crowd to tears. He touched on the smaller crowds that were coming year after year, a point made by others as well.
"I want to turn that around. There needs to be more of us next year and more than that the following year," he proclaimed. "I feel sorry for young people, they are with us and we need to reach out to them and they need to be encouraged.
"Harvey Milk was a real man, he was a neighbor. He was an honest man and he changed the world," Jones added.
Many city politicians, including out city Treasurer Jose Cisneros, were in attendance and offered remarks.
"When Harvey came to the Castro in the 1970s it was a much different place than it is now," he told the crowd.
Openly gay District 8 Supervisor Scott Weiner, who represents the Castro, said people still want basic public services.
"It’s the same things we are fighting for now, the deterioration of public services," he said.
Out Supervisor David Campos said that after a major motion picture, Milk, and the legislation establishing Harvey Milk Day in California, Milk is more mainstream and known by more people. But, he said, people need to do more than just speak of a man.
"We as queer people, we want to be part of the system, but we want to change the system so it’s fair and just for everyone," said Campos.
The current Occupy movement was referenced by former Supervisor Carol Ruth Silver, who urged people to attend and support Occupy San Francisco.
"Inside each one of you and me lies the strength," and "not enough of us are going," said Silver, who served with Milk on the board.
She urged the crowd to join her and not forget the legacy of Milk, who if he were alive today, would most likely be full a supporter of the Occupy protests.
Harry Britt, who succeeded Milk on the Board of Supervisors, said that he saw hope and possibilities within the community. He reminded everyone that "remembering is not the thing Milk would have wanted us to do," but instead to make the night a time of recommitment. A recommitment to the community, to the movement, or just to try and make a difference however big or small that may be, Britt said.
After the speeches, people lit candles and took flowers on a beautiful march down Market Street and through the neighborhood. It was led by the Brass Liberation Orchestra, the players having volunteered their time to play their uplifting tunes, bringing people to their windows as the crowd passed by. As they marched through the streets, more and more joined in the walk and the crowd grew and grew. When the crowd, which had doubled by end, reached the intersection of 18th and Castro, there was a moment when it overtook the intersection and cheered for Milk.
By the time the march reached the site of Milk’s old camera store (now the Human Rights Campaign store) the street was flooded with folks holding candles. The band played while people danced and cheered. And then, after all the noise, came a poignant moment of silence when everyone just stood in remembrance. A vigil was created in front of what is now is the HRC store. Many stood there long after the music stopped and long after the crowd left to remember Milk and remember what he did for the city.

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